Democrats in Congress continue to push forward with immigration reform that would legalize an estimated 8 million immigrants living within the United States without legal status, groups such as Dreamers, those with Temporary Protected Status, agricultural workers, and essential workers.
Democrats initially attempted to collaborate with Republicans to pass an immigration bill through the Senate, but negotiations stalled when Republicans firmly opposed signing any immigration legislation without including harsh border security provisions and restrictions on asylum seekers. Therefore, immigration legislation has been included within the infrastructure budget package and would circumnavigate the 60-vote threshold through the reconciliation process. Republicans are expected to push back on immigration legislation because of the concerns related to federal spending and the budget deficit.
Although Democrats demonstrate their proposal will have a significant effect on federal spending, revenue, and debt. Additionally, supporters of the legislation argue the immigration reform proposal would offer legal permanent residence status, which would pave a pathway to eventually apply for legal status, thus providing eligibility for certain federal benefits and ultimately citizenship.
In an attempt to support their argument, Democrats highlight a 2005 Republican-led bill that addressed immigration as part of the budget reconciliation process, essentially claiming that precedent is on the side of the Democrats this time around because the Senate parliamentarian, at the time, allowed for immigration reform language to be included. But opponents continue to reference talking points that claim to extend legal status to new populations would cost the federal government billions. Even though a group of more than 50 economists endorsed the inclusion of a pathway to citizenship for individuals because they argue that immigration reform would increase wages and productivity, create jobs, and lift families out of poverty. Furthermore, it’s widely known that immigrants often take employment in low-skilled occupations with unusual work hours that established residents do not frequently desire.
The United States expects to continue recording the same trend of a decreasing birth rate, which will contribute to slowing growth among the working-age population and slow the expansion of the economy.
Experts suggest an increase in immigrants could alleviate the impact on the labor market and ultimately boost the economy.
This trend is exacerbated by decreasing population growth in areas outside of major cities, such as minor cities and rural areas, but immigration policy that incentives resettlement opportunities expect to support and benefit these communities.
Researchers Gianmarco Ottaviano and Giovanni Peri published their study about the modest impact on wages due to immigration, which reported a positive impact on the wages of native-born Americans. Additionally, supporters of immigration reform say the availability of more workers is often a beneficial outcome for businesses because it contributes to lower production costs and reduces the prices of various goods and services, ultimately increasing employment opportunities to bolster production.
On Sunday, September 19th, the Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough – an advisor to the Senate tasked with providing advice and interpretation about the arcane rules, recommended against including the immigration proposal within the budget reconciliation legislation, claiming the decision goes beyond the budgetary impact appropriate with reconciliation, providing a temporary setback to the attempt by the Democrats for immigration reform.
Senate Democrats have already prepared alternative proposals and expect to convene additional meetings to collaborate with the Senate parliamentarian. Although the endorsement by the Senate official is only a recommendation and an override could be granted by the President of the Senate, Vice President Kamala Harris.
After more than a decade, the party has promised to deliver on immigration reform, but many supporters claim this may be a final opportunity and a crucial moment for this Congress to offer relief to the undocumented community residing in the United States, partly because of other pressing matters.
The nation remains attentive to the topic of immigration amid a humanitarian crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the concerns of mistreatment of migrants, which have contributed to increased pressure from pro-immigrant organizations and activists for immigration reform, in addition to criticism targeting the Biden administration for their use of expedited deportations under the guise of the COVID-19 pandemic and concerns of migrant mistreatment from authorities.
Recently, the Department of Homeland Security came under fire because of footage showing Texas Border Patrol Agents intimidating Haitian migrants with horse-mounted officers who similarly wielded reins to a whip. Additionally, increased attention on the regional concerns reported in neighboring countries, such as El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti, Cuba, and Venezuela. Many individuals report domestic issues within their home country, such as poverty, violence, government corruption, and environmental disasters exacerbated by climate change.
The Biden-Harris administration has announced bilateral cooperation with Latin American nations to address some of the root causes that contribute to increased immigration to the United States and the diaspora of people from their ancestral homes. Vice President Kamala Harris has been tasked by President Biden — as he was during the former Obama administration — to promote democratic institutions and develop opportunities that advance the economic well-being of Central America.
Additionally, the Biden administration has received pressure from partner nations, such as Mexico – which serves as an important transit country for many migrants – to provide work visas for immigrants enrolled in Mexico’s immigration program, in an attempt to reduce the pressure on migrants attempting to enter through the Rio Grande. Although, officials flash warning signs of the internal complexities of cooperating with nations in Central America, referring to concerns of corruption and limited oversight, in regards to the ability of the United States to navigate how aid will be engaged on the ground.